It’s fair to say that Doctor Who series 12’s fifth episode was full of surprises. Fans were still reeling from the surprise return of John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness, only to be completely floored by the episode’s shock introduction of a new incarnation of the Doctor, played by Jo Martin and with a mysterious position within the Doctor’s own timeline.
But should we have seen this coming? In the hours and days since the episode first aired fans have noticed more and more clues hidden in the background that hinted tour guide Ruth (Martin) wasn’t all she seemed, and watching the episode again there are all sorts of hints that another Doctor was in front of us the whole time.
We’ve collected a few of the best (and a few we’re not quite so convinced by, frankly) below, and be honest – did you spot any of these at the time?
What’s in a name?
It’s been suggested by some fans that even the bare facts of Ruth’s name could be a clue to her real identity. Ruth, after all, is Hebrew for friend, and in English Clayton relates to “earth” (if you stretch it a bit) – and who is the Doctor if not a friend to the Earth?
With hindsight, it’s obvious that Ruth’s intense concentration on her wristwatch as it counts down the seconds to 8am is a link to her status as a Time Lord. Though why that time was so significant to her is less clear…
Ruth and Lee’s flat
As many have pointed out, some of the décor in Ruth and Lee’s flat subtly evokes the TARDIS interior, most notably the hexagon mirror (which ties to similar shapes in Jodie Whittaker’s TARDIS and other versions) and the TARDIS-like square windows you can see to the right of the above image.
If you watch closely, there’s also a preponderance of blue items in Ruth and Lee’s home – blue kettles, utensil pots, a calendar, various bowls – which could connect it to the time machine’s signature blue-box exterior.
While we all assumed Neil Stuke’s Lee Clayton was a wrong’un on the run from the Judoon, as it turns out he was something quite different. In the episode it’s revealed that he was actually protecting Ruth while she was in human form – and the dismissive final words Commander Gat spoke to him before his death hinted at Ruth’s true identity, the pair’s marriage hiding a traditional Doctor-companion relationship.
Also, who else but the Time Lords would use “Chronotelluric alloy” to make their medals?
While we’re not sure where this incarnation of the Doctor falls (pre-Hartnell? Just after Patrick Troughton? A parallel universe?) she definitely shares a few moves with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, showing off what we think are some Venusian aikido moves to fight off a group of Judoon.
For Who(m) The Bell Tolls
Now, this one might be a bit of a stretch, but when Ruth first has visions of the lighthouse where her true identity is hidden, the bell of Gloucester cathedral is ringing.
This can’t be a coincidence, and given that the current resting place of the new Doctor’s TARDIS was at that lighthouse, could there be a connection here to the time machine’s signature cloister bell warning? If nothing else, it could have helped trigger a memory…
The other Doctor
One of the later clues that Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor could be connected to Ruth in some way comes when the pair are driving to the lighthouse, and it’s suggested that Ruth has some kind of instinctive trust of her passenger – possibly because they’re the same person.
“I don’t know why I’m even trusting you,” she mutters.
“I’ve got one of those faces,” replies the Doctor…as it turns out, Ruth’s own face, albeit a few regenerations down the line.
Bit conceptual, this, but one or two fans have suggested that the choice of a lighthouse itself may have been a bit of a clue that the Doctor had parked her TARDIS there. A sturdy structure with a light on top, used to save people from death? Sounds familiar…
Break the glass
We’ve seen the technology Ruth used to hide her Doctor-ness before – David Tennant used a chameleon arch in Human Nature/Family of Blood, and Derek Jacobi’s Master did the same a few episodes later – though while those two Time Lords hid their essence in fob watches, this Doctor put it inside a static fire alarm.
However, there was a bit of a clue as to its true nature. Look closely, and you can spot what appear to be Gallifreyan symbols on the red rim of the fire alarm. Though considering a mass of powerful light bursts out of the alarm a few seconds later, you wouldn’t have had long to ponder this particular clue before the truth was revealed anyway…
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